The Cyclical History

January 2010

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Could a Car Accident Be an Opening to Soul?

In my last post in this series, I discussed the limitations of interpretation as a platform for a soulful use of astrology. To illustrate these limitations, I chose an example from my own life – a car accident that occurred during a transit of Mars conjunct my natal Mercury – taken from my book, The Seven Gates of Soul.

After quickly exhausting the capacity of traditional astrology to shed light on this incident, I reviewed the sensory and emotional dimensions of both Mercury and Mars as I experienced them in the car accident, and suggested that my vulnerability and anger were potentially an opening to soul, were I in fact, willing to go through the opening.

In this post, I want to demonstrate how it is possible to do that.

Sorting Through A Cyclical History for Resonant Memories

To continue with my adapted description of this process in The Seven Gates of Soul:

"From an astro-logical perspective, the opening to soul presented by my car accident seems related to my natal Mars square Mercury, which is currently being triggered by transit, so it makes sense to begin with this clue, and see what else I might be able to discover. But a simple astrological interpretation of Mars square Mercury won’t do very much for me, unless I use my conscious understanding of the symbolism to take me into the realm of the unconscious, where the deepest metaphorical meanings of the symbolism are waiting to be discovered."

To move more deeply into this unknown territory, I might begin with a conscious inventory of similar experiences. Rather than reconstruct an entire biography, I can assume that this experience is but one station of a cyclical process, and using my knowledge of astrology, track that process with greater precision. More specifically, I can track the cardinal points (conjunction, waxing square, opposition, and waning square) of the Mars-Mercury cycle, and in this way, flesh out an entire history of experience, which is symbolically related to this one thread I am trying to follow into soul space. I call this process taking a cyclical history.

Now that I have identified a feeling tone related to the thread I’m tracking – a sense of vulnerability and anger – and an appropriate metaphor – that of being broadsided, I also have emotional and intuitive touchstone to take with me into soul space, around which additional relevant experiences will resonate. As I search through my memories of the cyclical history of Mars transits to my natal Mercury, I will intuitively feel a sense of recognition of those experiences that evoke a sense of vulnerability and anger in the midst of some prior state of relative well-being, and fit the metaphor of being broadsided. I call these experiences of recognition, resonant memories.

Obviously, it helps in doing this, to have a journal. Since I’ve been keeping one for 25 years, I have plenty of material to draw from, although I have found that whenever I take an intention into soul space – in this case, the intention to track the pattern related to being broadsided – memory tends to gravitate automatically to the relevant experiences, especially when I use the dates of the related cyclical history as a point of reference.

If, for example, I know that from December 24-27, 1986, transiting Mars was square my natal Mercury, and I can remember the general time frame – say, in this case, as the Christmas holidays, then more specific memories related to the pattern being tracked will begin to emerge. For the sake of this illustration, I won’t list every memory this exercise evokes, nor even every memory with which I resonate in relation to this thread I am tracking. Nor will every period of the cyclical history I am using as a template for my memory produce something of significance. Nonetheless, with just a few examples, the reader should be able to see where this is going, and how this approach to astrological symbolism opens up a fascinating portal into the more unconscious dimensions of soul space.

Looking for Reenactments of the Original Metaphorical Scene

First, let’s start with my memories. Sometimes it happens that the pattern in question repeats itself literally, or at least, uses the same literal symbols to make its point. In April, 1997, for example, as transiting Mars was square my natal Mercury, a woman hit my truck in a parking lot of a store where I was shopping. This time, I was not in the vehicle, nor did I get angry afterwards, since there was little actual damage to my truck. The anger was played out, in this case, by those who saw the accident and urged me to call the police. In any event, here was another situation in which I was broadsided by forces beyond my control, using the same symbolic equation, Mars = moving vehicle. I did not see it coming, and I could only react after the fact. I choose this situation, out of all the memories connected to my Mars-Mercury story, because of these similarities, and the sense of recognition or resonance they evoked.

More important than the literal repetition of symbolic elements, is the metaphor of being broadsided, and the emotional and visceral response that this kind of experience tends to trigger in me. I was broadsided in this larger, metaphorical sense, for example, in February, 1998, as Mars was square my Mercury, when I got a call from my sister in Florida to inform me that my father had just been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and was fading fast. I was broadsided in August, 1976, as Mars square my Mercury, when I tripped over a rock I didn’t see on the beach in California, while playing football, and broke my elbow. I was broadsided in late spring/early summer of 1953, possibly while Mars was opposed my Mercury, as the neighborhood kids ganged up on me, and stuffed ashes in my mouth.

I don’t remember the exact date of this last incident, since it happened when I was three-and-a-half years old, well before I started keeping a journal. The familiar progression of emotions from relative contentment and well-being to extreme vulnerability to anger (which emerged later over the course of the next 3-4 years) marks this incident as one that belongs to this particular track through soul space, regardless of the exactitude of the corresponding transits. In all three incidents, and others I have not mentioned, the experience is one of being broadsided by a twist of events I did not foresee, and perhaps could not have foreseen; moving through this familiar emotional pattern at various levels of intensity; and often undergoing major changes in my life, as a consequence of these triggering events. As I sift and sort through my memories of this Mars-Mercury cycle, I become more conscious of the pattern, and grow in my capacity to recognize its essence throughout its many permutations.

In this way, as I sift through my memories in relation to a particular astrological cycle – in this case, the relatively fast and frequently activated Mars-Mercury cycle – I am able to cull out specific memories that evoke the emotional tone of vulnerability and anger in the wake of being broadsided. Doing this provides ample subjective evidence that there is a pattern, and that I can correlate the pattern with some process related to my natal Mars-Mercury square that works itself out in cyclical time.

This, however, is only the tip of the astropoetic iceberg, for as Carl Jung pointed out, only about 10% of the depth of meaning to be found in any symbol is available to the conscious mind. The rest can only be found by diving below the surface of that which is recognized, to see what lies beneath. We will begin diving deeper in the next post in this series.

The next post in this series is Astrology, Dreams and Animal Totems

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